Learning to Dance in the Subtle Energy Field with Argentine Tango

Last night I got my mind blown all over the dance floor. How? My first Argentine Tango lesson with the WWU Tango Club.

Explosive stuff, tango. The core concept behind Argentine Tango is to have your attention on your chest. You keep your chest connected, by an invisible cord, to your partner’s chest.

The idea is you are always chest to chest regardless of how close you are to each other. And that is why, as I’ll describe later, Argentine Tango has the potential to be a particularly powerful energy field meditation.

Dance Class? Really?

A month or so ago I asked my friends for suggestions on where to go to learn ballroom dancing. I wanted to get over an insecurity about dancing and have another social outlet for meeting people. I figured finding a class where I wasn’t the only one feeling awkward would help.

One of my friends suggested Argentine Tango. She thought I would really appreciate tango because of the energetic connection partners can experience while dancing and pointed me at AllBellinghamTango. As it turns out, friendly, welcoming communities of tango lovers have formed all over the US. Including, in my smallish town.

Another avenue for exploring, experiencing and expressing the subtle energetic field? Get out of the house with fun people a couple times a week to boot? Even better. Let’s do it!

Every Tuesday, the WWU Tango Club, gathers at the university multipurpose room to teach, learn, practice, and reconnect with each other through tango. And they are definitely enthusiastic!

Learning the dance is fun even though I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Not terribly complicated, either. At least, in the early stages. Though I’m going to need some practice, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. Oh and as a side note: Thank goodness for gracious partners!

What was difficult was putting my attention on my chest while learning to dance with another person. Usually, when I put my attention on my chest I am doing energy work of some kind or another, meditating, or going about my daily life flowing energy for no particular reason.

I found myself habitually going into meditative awareness of my chest and heart instead of focusing on the dance movements. Great learning for me! Breaking patterns is a good thing! Helps with opening awareness.

What I am not typically doing in those meditative states is coordinating my body motions with another person in such close physical proximity. Especially, when that someone is wearing spiky heels that look like they could go straight through my sock clad foot and pin it to the floor with a single misstep.

And I loved it! A little danger has a nice way of keeping one on their toes, so to speak.

After this first lesson I can see why my friend thought I would enjoy Argentine Tango. Tango is practically designed to encourage the dancers to cultivate energetic connection. The people really are friendly and get together quite a bit, too.

Granted my experience with other dance is extremely limited. Mostly, free-form or ecstatic dance. Which is very different from Tango in a number of ways.

Argentine Tango is full of tradition, clear protocols, and what some might consider sexist roles. There’s a special tea we drink before starting the lessons. Can’t say it tasted all that great but I can see acquiring a taste for it. Men are leads and expected to be confident leaders. Women are follows and expected to be confident followers. Partners have to depend on each other.

Then there is the clear potential for Argentine Tango to be a powerhouse for developing heart energy awareness and connection. What really caught my attention and why I believe there’s so much potential for developing energetic awareness and sensitivity is the high degree of focus.

Intention and energy flow to where you place your attention. This is true whether you are working in the mental, emotional, spiritual or physical realms.

The protocols and rules can act as magnifiers of your attention on heart connection. The instructors didn’t describe it that way. It is hard to miss the presence of your heart in your chest, though. Just imagine dancing three songs or about twelve with a partner. Following the music, responding to subtle shifts with your partner while you are both focusing your attention on moving from your chest is going to shift your awareness of a connection at some point.

Awareness at the physical level does provide the foundation for higher levels of awareness. One wouldn’t have to shift into these other realms but I have heard many people describe Tango in energetic and spiritual terms. I suspect the slip from physical dance to energetic or spiritual dance happens for many dancers.

There is probably a tango community near you. Check it out!

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6 Replies to “Learning to Dance in the Subtle Energy Field with Argentine Tango”

  1. Hi Carol,

    I lived near the Bay area, do you know someone who can do yoga sessions for me?

  2. Hi Eric,

    My first experience with energy flow came from tai chi, and it’s still where I feel the most immediate and intense connection. As you say, the repetitive physical movements trigger profound inner connection. To me, tai chi connects all of my body with all of the energy of the surrounding world, whereas yoga connects me with my own internal energy and with a more focused external energy through the chakras.

    I’ve recently discovered salsa dancing and find a similar sense of connection and flow, especially with one partner. Fabulous! Thank you for the notion of focusing on the heart connection. I’ll try it out tonight!

    Mary Carol

    1. Welcome Mary Carol,

      Thank you for visiting and sharing! Tai chi sounds so great. I really need to try it and yoga out. After all these years I think I’ve done yoga three times and never tried tai chi.

      There is a practice I do which allows me to keep a heart focus throughout the day. I imagine each inhalation and exhalation going through my heart. As my chest rises and falls this allows my attention to be placed continuously on my heart. For the moment, getting the physical movement of tango distracts from the heart breath awareness. Hopefully, soon, I’ll be able to bring that into tango. It’s starting to happen, just slowly.

      Have fun tonight and let me know how it goes!

      Eric

    2. Hi Eric,

      The secret with yoga is to find an instructor who understands and utilizes the spiritual components, and who is trained to protect the student’s body. Westernized yoga is sometimes taught as just exercise, and some teachers encourage extreme postures that can do damage. That said, find the right teacher and yoga is magnificent!

      Tai chi doesn’t seem to carry the same risks, though again the right teacher can pull everything into focus.

      I try to practice the breathing technique you mention, with one addition. Tibertan heart yoga teaches that we can inhale the negative, burn it to ashes in our heart’s fire, and exhale peace and love. In this way, we can practice spiritual yoga with every breath.

      I also find it calming to visualize my lungs expanding and contracting. Another lovely focus.

      Thank you again for writing such an interesting article, and for your thoughtful response to my comments.

      Namaste,

      Mary Carol

  3. Good morning, Rebecca! It was great talking with you, last night. Thank you for your insights into Tango both last night and this morning. There is much to explore. I had a great time meeting more of the tango community, too. So many warm, friendly people!
    –Eric

  4. Hi Eric, It was great talking with you last night at the milonga (tango dance) at Pure Bliss Desserts. Aptly named, don’t you think? It is always nice when someone joins into the tango community who already is in touch with their spiritual, emotional, physical self. However, it can be a little overwhelming unless you learn to “Use the force, Luke”! Turn it down when you are learning steps, let it back on when you are dancing and feeling rather proficient at the physical. You will love this dance!

    Hope to see you at our Thursday class and practice time at Bellingham Athletic Club Cordata, 7-9:30 pm, $10.
    Rebecca Niemier

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